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A record setting Neptune called “The Turtle” — or was it “The Truculent Turtle”?

14 October 2011

A record setting Neptune called The Turtle — or was it The Truculent Turtle?

There is no doubt that this aircraft with its two piston engines is special, setting a long distance unrefueled flight record which remained standing until a B-52 Stratofortress claimed the title. What is in doubt is the name of the aircraft. Many records, including the museum page, say it is the Truculent Turtle — however, the nose and earliest references say The Turtle. Truculence aside, the ship was aptly named since the average cruise speed of the flight was an unremarkable 200 mph (320kph) but for a fantastic distance of 11,235 miles (17,976km). The flight took off from Perth Australia with the intention of landing at Washington DC but weather over the Pacific Ocean and the Rockies cut into the fuel supply, so the flight terminated in Columbus OH instead. The flight crew of four pilots, along with a kangaroo, were aloft for 55 hours and 17 minutes.

Naturally, The Turtle was no ordinary P2V Neptune  since it was modified to fly for such a long distance. Incredibly, so much more fuel was carried that it took off weighing 2.7 times its own weight and required the assistance of JATO bottles to get airborne. The aircraft can be seen in the National Naval Aviation Museum suspended from a hangar ceiling with its landing gear deployed.

The record setting Lockheed P2V Neptune known as “The Turtle” though some say “Truculent Turtle” — photo by Joseph May

The nose art shows no “truculent” character — photo by Joseph May

The Turtle’s starboard side — photo by Joseph May

 Four men flew The Turtle for a bit over 55 hours to set a world endurance record — photo by Joseph May


Additional resources



Thanks to David McLay, of the Florida Aviation Historical Society, a friend and retired Neptune pilot advises that as of the 1960s those in the Navy knew the aircraft as the Truculent Turtle. He also mentioned that the Neptunes also equipped with jet engines used those engines when taking off, for high speed mine laying runs or emergencies. Many thanks for the information.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. shortfinals permalink
    14 October 2011 06:54

    A truly amazing feat of airmanship – and some fine photographs, too!

    It is coincidental that Australia also featured in the previous long-distance flight record. Three Vickers Wellesleys of the RAF Long Range Development Flight took off from Ismailia, Egypt on 3rd November, 1938. Two of them made it to Darwin, Australia (one landed in Timor) two days later, having covered 7,162 miles! A worthy effort, given the state of technology, this record stood until 1945.

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      14 October 2011 17:46

      Thanks — I had no idea. I looked up the record and it still stands for single engine aircraft 🙂 Thanks, too, for the mention of the Wellesley — I looked that one up as well and it is an interesting aircraft. Do you have any idea if any or ant part of them are on display?

  2. James Dudley, Knotts Island, N.C. permalink
    26 January 2012 09:08

    This aircraft was on display at the entrance to Norfolk Naval Air Station (KNGU) from 1953 until 1977. It was a well known local landmark during those years.

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      26 January 2012 09:34

      Good to know — some aircraft have so much history AFTER they are retired which we tend to forget. Thank you for this 🙂

  3. Stephen Verner Andersen permalink
    19 February 2012 15:15

    My father, Verner Andersen, was the artist who painted THE TURTLE logo on the TRUCULENT TURTL (the original one, not what is currently on display).
    He also did the artwork (silkscreen process, I believe) for the Jackets and the leather patches on the flightsuits. I have one of those patches.

    Since artists did not sign their work for aircraft logos back then, I only have the patch
    and my word to verify what I am writing. Any suggestions on how I can optain proof that my
    father was the original artist would be appreciated.

    Stephen Verner Andersen

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      19 February 2012 18:35


      You have a remarkable family history and I like your father’s work very much. I would both email and write to Mr. Hill Goodspeed, at the address below — I’ve found this museum to be more responsive to written communication for what it is worth. I’d also copy the curator at the same address though I do not know that name.

      Good luck and keep us informed 🙂


      Hill Goodspeed, Historian and Artifact Collections Manager
      National Naval Aviation Museum
      1750 Radford Blvd., Suite C
      Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL 32508
      Phone: (850) 452-3604, extension 3135
      Fax: (850) 452-3296

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